All of Plano’s five full-service hospitals are undergoing various brick-and-mortar and program expansions in response to the medical demands of the growing regional population.
Administrators said the biggest challenge for these facilities is finding the number of employees—nurses, inparticular—who will be needed to coincide with the expansions through 2018.
“Plano and Collin County are really exploding, not just in health care but in all industries,” said Mark Valentine, president of The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. “One of the things we run into, quite honestly, is that when we’re looking for three or four [intensive care unit] staff members, so is another facility.
“That’s what makes it so difficult. There’s not enough health care professionals in the DFW market to satisfy [the needs of] all 38 hospitals in DFW.”
Growing with the times
As Plano’s economy continues to thrive due to its growing population, hospital administrators said its health care market is also emerging as a regional industry thanks in part to its longevity in Collin County.
Baylor, Scott & White-Plano President Jerri Garison said it will expand its number of critical care beds next year in response to the increased number of patients it has been receiving.
Construction on the 16 new rooms is expected to begin in January and should be complete by May, Garison said. The expansion entails renovating some of the facility’s existing space.
Built in 2004, the Plano campus is working to strengthen its health management strategies to help keep people out of the hospital.
In the longterm, the hospital wants to educate people—particularly older individuals—more on how to manage their conditions better, from diabetes and hypertension, Garison said. The demand for additional beds, for example, proves prevention programs in the health care industry could stand to be more effective, she said.
“For our long-term goals, we’re going to need less beds, what we’re seeing [now] is that the patients that do come in now are much sicker than they were before,” Garison said. “That’s why we’re doubling the number [of beds] in our ICU, because we have more critical care patients.”
In November 2015, Children’s Health broke ground on its new pediatric sports medicine institute on the southwest corner of its Plano campus. Expected to be complete in late 2017, the four-story Children’s Health Specialty Center II will also be home to the Children's Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.
The institute is the first of its kind in the region and will include indoor athletic performance facilities, a half-size football field and running track. The specialty center will also house practitioners and four operating rooms. The new center will require additional nurses and physical therapists, as well as surgical and imaging technicians, said Michael Wiggins, senior vice president and administrator for Children’s Medical Center Plano.
In addition to more staff, Wiggins agreed with Garison and said today’s hospitals are also expanding their prevention and outreach programs to help keep patients healthy and out of their waiting rooms to help reduce costs all-around.
“We were seeing children with adult [sports] injuries,” he said. “We’re reaching out into the community ... so that we can get some education out there to coaches and parents about how to protect their young athletes from those types of injuries.”
Built in 2008, The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano began a 150,000-square-foot expansion in mid-May that, when complete, will feature a new five-story tower with four operating rooms and twice the number of outpatient beds.
The $100 million project is expected to be complete in May 2018 to coincide with the hospital’s 10th anniversary.
Having celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano is also working to accommodate regional growth with a $50 million renovation plan to expand and enhance its operating rooms.
THPP added 10 new operating suites this year that include state-of-the-art imaging and audio/visual equipment, bringing them up to today’s standards, President Josh Floren said.
“With this number of health systems, you would expect that somebody is outcompeting the other but all of us are growing,” he said. “I think a lot of that has to do with just the sheer growth in this area, within Collin County especially.”
One factor that has helped Plano’s hospitals thrive despite competition for qualified professionals is the fact their niche services complement one another, Floren said. Although all serve as full-service hospitals, each has grown separate reputations.
Over the past year, Medical City Plano (formerly The Medical Center of Plano) has renovated and expanded several aspects of its services, including expansions to its emergency room and brain and spine hospital. The hospital has also added more ICU beds and an inpatient rehab hospital, and has plans to add a pediatric unit to its existing burn and reconstructive unit.
Built in 1975, Medical City Plano has undergone many renovations and expansions over the years; however, the demand for additional capacity for the purpose of serving the growing community has never been this high, President Charles Gressle said.
“There’s a huge undersupply of clinical providers, whether you’re talking about physicians, nurses or technicians because of the increased demand,” he said. “It’s not only within our local community. As the region and the state grows, residents are depending on us to provide a high level of quality care.”
Competing for candidates
The Heart Hospital recruits professionals nationwide but prefers to hire locally, Valentine said. Lately, it has been looking at candidates in areas with strong medical programs, such parts of the Midwest region and Florida. Hospitals can also contract out the work through labor agencies, but doing so comes at a higher premium, Gressle said.
To keep up with the realities of modern-day health care, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in a 2010 study recommended the number of nurses with baccalaureate degrees increase to 80 percent by 2020.
Less than 50 percent of the nurses in Texas hold a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, according to a 2016-21 labor market report released by Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas. Achieving a more educated workforce can be accomplished through a number of avenues, such as traditional BSN programs as well as transitional paths, which can be offered at universities and some community colleges. The Metroplex has several universities that offer BSNs, including Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
Collin College President Neil Matkin said he has met with hospital administrators to understand employment needs. Collin College is seeking the ability to provide this four-year degree program to help meet public demand. The college must receive authorization from the Texas Legislature.
“We’ve got some real challenges,” Matkin said. “There is a short supply of programs and these [existing] nursing programs can only take a certain number of applicants. Part of the conversation is not just about what has been built but what we plan on doing tomorrow as well.”